China removes 105 apps including TripAdvisor to ‘cleanse’ app stores

TripAdvisor China app stores
The logo for a travel website company TripAdvisor Inc is shown on a computer screen in this illustration photo in Encinitas, California May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China has removed 105 apps including that of US travel firm TripAdvisor Inc from app stores in the country, under a new campaign to cleanse stores of apps it deems spread content related to pornography, prostitution, gambling and violence.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement on its website on Tuesday that the apps violated one or more of three cyber laws, without providing details for each app.

Reuters’ calls to TripAdvisor’s Beijing office seeking comment went unanswered.

The authority said it started the campaign on Nov. 5 in response to strong reaction from the general public to content deemed offensive. It said it would continue to regulate apps and remove those in violation of the law in a timely manner.

China heavily regulates its cyberspace and punishments for transgressions are not uncommon, irrespective of whether the app is operated by a domestic or foreign company.

In July, China’s internet watchdog said it was kicking off a two-month campaign to clean up websites aimed at users under the age of 18, saying it wanted to promote a healthy online environment.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said on its website on Tuesday that under the campaign it will look at content on online learning websites as well as ones that have livestreaming or instant messaging tools aimed at minors.

The regulator intends to “strictly control information and actions that induce minors to carry out behaviours which have value-oriented problems such as the chasing of entertainment stars with no limits in mind or worshipping money”, it said.

(Reporting by Pei Li; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

Related article from 2017: China launches new crackdowns on “illegal” apps and VPN services

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